The Covenant was endorsed on behalf of the Armed Forces by the senior army commander in the North West region, Brigadier Nick Fitzgerald MBE, Commander of the 42nd North West Brigade based at Fulwood Barracks in Preston. Also present at the signing was the Island’s Armed Forces Champion, Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK, who is leading the Covenant initiative.
The Armed Forces Community Covenant is a voluntary statement of mutual support between a civilian community and its service personnel. It recognises the special role and contribution of those residents who serve, or have served, in the British Armed Forces and seeks to ensure that they and their families are not disadvantaged by their service.
Similar Covenants have been developed throughout the United Kingdom as local expressions of the national Armed Forces Covenant which was formalised by the UK Government in 2011. The concept was the subject of a public consultation in the Island between August and October 2012, and the response was overwhelmingly in favour of establishing a Community Covenant here.
In January this year Mr Watterson sought and gained unanimous Tynwald endorsement for the principles underpinning the Armed Forces Community Covenant. In his speech at the Covenant signing today the Chief Minister said:
‘The purpose of the Community Covenant is to encourage support for the Armed Forces Community working and residing in the Isle of Man and to recognise and remember the sacrifices made by members of this Armed Forces Community, especially those who have given the most.'
The Chief Minister added:
‘For the Isle of Man Government and partner organisations, the Community Covenant provides an opportunity to bring our knowledge and expertise to bear on the provision of help and advice to members of the Armed Forces Community. It also presents an opportunity to build upon existing good work in the Island. For the Armed Forces community, the Community Covenant encourages the integration of Service life into civilian life and encourages members of the Armed Forces community to help this Island community. This is a two-way agreement which recognises the debt we owe to those who serve, who have served and who will serve in our armed forces
- We will encourage our young people to carry on this tradition of service
- We will recognise, respect and celebrate their work on our behalf
- We will seek to ensure that their welfare and that of their families is protected
- Those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice we will cherish and remember always
'To those who have served in the past we thank you. To those returning home from service, we encourage you to take part in our Island’s activities, to walk amongst us in the Queen’s uniform and become a significant part of our society. Today we forge a bond that will last.’